A new TV movie set in 1945 has begun filming in Northern Ireland.
Marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust next year, The Windermere Children is described as a “stark, moving and ultimately redemptive story.”
Written by BAFTA-nominated screenwriter Simon Block (The Eichmann Show), the one-off 90-minute special is based on the first-person testimony of some of these now elderly survivors of the Holocaust, whose filmed interviews will also be featured in the film.
The Windermere Children will star Romola Garai (The Hour), Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) and Iain Glen (Downton Abbey).
The official synopsis reads: “One summer’s night in 1945 a coach-load of children, some as young as three years old, are in transit from Carlisle airport to the Calgarth Estate in Lake Windermere, England. They are child survivors, and presumed orphans, of the Holocaust.
“With only a few meagre possessions, they do not know what awaits them in Britain. They speak no English and, having spent many years living in death camps, and are deeply traumatised.
“At the end of World War II, the British government granted up to 1,000 children the right to come to the UK. Three hundred of these children were brought to Lake Windermere for their first four months to have the opportunity to recover, surrounded by nature.
“The responsibility for looking after the children is held by Oscar Friedmann (Thomas Kretschmann – The Pianist), a German-born child social worker and psychoanalyst. He and his team are in uncharted territory: their project to mass-rehabilitate a group of children has never been attempted before.”
BBC Two controller Patrick Holland commented: “The Children promises to be a beautiful and powerful drama about a little-known part of British history. The refuge given in the Lakes and determination to give children back their lives so they could begin again is both deeply moving and humbling.”
Executive producer Leanne Klein added: “The Children is a story of hope after horror, revealing how Britain and a remarkable group of adults transformed the lives of 300 child survivors of the concentration camps.
“Seventy five years after the Holocaust ended it’s a story that feels as important and relevant as ever. I’m incredibly proud of the exceptional cast and crew we have brought together to make this film.”
The Windermere Children will air on in the UK on BBC Two and in Germany on ZDF in 2020.